Dispensing With Some Myths About The Poor Poor Songwriters Decimated By Piracy

from the cry-me-a-river-of-song... dept

Entertainment industry lawyer (and big time copyright supporter) Ben Sheffner has a blog post pointing us to a rather amusing "interview" between two other copyright maximalists: Chris Castle, another music industry lawyer, and Rick Carnes, the head of the Songwriters Guild of America. Sheffner, amusingly, absolutely loves to nitpick any news article or blog post from those who believe that copyright law is too strict -- ridiculing minor misstatements or weaving in questionable legal theories to mock those who question the abuse of copyright. Yet, in writing about this interview between two people who share his worldview, apparently all skepticism or critical thinking goes right out the window. So, I guess we'll have to do it for him.

Now, I almost hesitated, because Castle has this friendly and inviting header to his blog:
Copyright 2006-2008, Christian L. Castle. All rights reserved. NOT subject to Creative Commons deed, license, or whatever it's called this week by the self-serving shilling for the self-absorbed on the short con.
Yes, you see that anyone who recognizes how to benefit from the sharing and promotion of content is apparently a "self-serving shill for the self-absorbed" as opposed to someone with some basic knowledge about the economics of information and how to craft successful business models around it. Clearly, Mr. Castle would prefer that no one ever bother to help promote his blog, and I'm tempted to oblige and ignore him -- but there are some important points in his post that need to be discussed. And, despite his slightly threatening header, I'm going to bet that fair use covers the following clips for the purpose of commentary. If he disagrees, we can discuss it and, who knows, maybe this post will disappear (save it now!). Oh, and by the way, Mr. Castle, it's 2009 now. You might want to update the date on your notice (which, as a lawyer, I'm sure you know -- you don't actually need to retain your copyright).

So, off we go. He starts off ever so nicely, tearing down all "Internet analysts, self-appointed futurists as well as self-annointed consumer advocates," claiming they all "misunderstand the role of songwriters and the negative effects that rampant piracy has had on them." Way to totally demonize and pigeonhole anyone who speaks up with alternative business models. But clearly, Castle (and Carnes later) are not interested in alternative business models. They really, really like the way the world used to be, and they're going to keep on wishing that it could go back to that. Then there's this:
People who just write songs don't sell t-shirts, don't play shows, don't have all the other income streams available to them that the EFFluviati point to as subsititute revenues for the cruel theft of labor value by companies like Kazaa, Morpheus, Limewire and the Pirate Bay.
I like the "EFFluviati" coinage. So eloquent. But, of course, he uses it to brush off what he hasn't bothered to understand (amusingly, right after insisting that it was everyone else who doesn't understand). This is, unfortunately, all too common among some (though, I would say definitely not all) of the copyright system defenders. Rather than understanding the basic economic principles at play, and using those to understand how to craft new business models, they simply look at one or two business models being used by some (t-shirts! concerts!) and insist that's really all there is. It amuses me that folks who apparently claim to represent the "creative" industries are so uncreative themselves. It also amuses me that they insist that no one outside of the music industry can comment on music business models, but they have no problem commenting on economics without any experience in that subject.

If they bothered to take the time to actually understand the economics at play, they would recognize that there are always scarcities to be leveraged, and business models can be crafted around those scarcities. With song writers, of course, there's the scarcity of their time and their skill -- all of which can be monetized with smart business models. It's not that difficult to figure out how this works, if you look at a few other industries that employ "writers" and realize that songwriting can be compensated in much the same way.

Carnes and Castle jointly bemoan the fact that there are fewer professional songwriters these days, and it's just not like the old days anymore. They also take time to trash "amateur" songwriters as being not worth a dime. It's as if someone let Andrew Keen into the conversation. Carnes and Castle conveniently ignore that more music than ever before is being made today -- and, yes, a large percentage of that music is terrible, but there's a ton of excellent music mixed in. The real trick is just getting better filters. But, of course, rather than do that, Castle puts up this bogus experiment:
Lock yourself in a room for an hour with a continuous playback loop of "Chocolate Rain". Then try it with Gershwin, Cole Porter, Lennon-McCartney, Diane Warren, Carol King. See which you like better.
Right, pick a dreadful amateur song, and then pick wonderful (but all very old) professional musicians. Of course, Castle doesn't bother to note the obvious. I could pick some current indie songwriters, and suggest you spend an hour listening to... say... Corey Smith or Jonathan Coulton or occasional Techdirt author Blaise Alleyne or Techdirt reader and free culture success story Adam Singer or (my personal favorite) Vic Ruggiero (start with this song) or some other top indie songwriters... and then try it with NSync or New Kids On The Block or any other teenie bopper sensation from the past twenty years -- all using "professional" songwriters -- and see which you like better. See? The "point" is no point at all.

Then Carnes jumps in to blame all the troubles of songwriters on their unwillingness to recognize the way technology had changed the market, ignoring all sorts of new opportunities to make money... oh wait, no. He blames everything on those darn pirates, and the fact that things just "aren't the way they used to be." Yeah, and we all used to walk uphill both ways 10 miles there and back to school in the snow:
There are multiple causes for this situation but most of the damage was wrought by two specific problems. The first being that the internet has turned into a Cyber-Somalia.

Professional songwriters used to live on advances from their music publisher. These advances were to be recouped from record sales only ("mechanicals" is the industry term for these revenues). Music piracy killed record sales so that made it impossible for music publishers to recoup the advances they paid songwriters so they stopped signing writers and let go of the ones they had when their contracts ran out.
In other words, the market changed, and Carnes is screaming about how the world needs to stop and go back to the way it was. I guess Carnes wishes that we went back to an age when you picked up the telephone and had to speak to an operator. Eventually, phone technology reached a point where we could all make those connections ourselves, putting lots of phone operators out of work -- thanks to those darn "calling pirates" (but also enabling a communications and technology revolution). Oh wait, what am I talking about... the phone put all those old telegraph operators out of work, so it was probably evil too.

By the way, if you want a shorthand way to know of any business or industry that's in serious trouble, it's when you ask them what their main purpose or mission is, and they talk about "protecting" anything, rather than adding value and expanding the market. So, Carnes, what's your number one job at SGA?
The mission statement of the SGA is two words "Protect Songwriters". That lack of specificity has forced me to show up in all kinds of places I never thought I would be! I was the lead witness in the latest Copyright Rate Board hearing. I have testified on behalf of songwriters in both the Senate and the House of Representatives on many issues concerning song writers rights, and I have spent the last ten years flying all over the country talking to people about the harm that is being done to American music by the widespread theft of songs on the internet by a mob of anonymous looters.
Maybe, rather than than focusing on "protecting" them, you might want to look at enabling them to adapt and capture some of the massive new opportunities out there.

Then there's this rather interesting interpretation of the Constitutional clause that resulted in copyright (you know, the one that's "to promote the progress"). According to Carnes, it's not about promoting the progress, but about raising the standard of living of songwriters:
"At least the [Congressional] Members I have talked to understand that the Constitution includes provisions for royalties for creators because without them the quality of life suffers."
Interesting. Makes you wonder why Congress didn't mandate full protection for telegraph and phone operators when technologies changed how those professions worked as well. After all, I'm sure -- temporarily -- those workers saw their quality of life decline. But, of course, we all know that eventually, their quality of life improved greatly, thanks to all of the wonderful things enabled by those new technologies.

Then Carnes goes on to rip on basically everyone else for causing problems for songwriters -- never once recognizing that maybe the problem is that the rest of the world has moved on, while he and his group haven't even tried. He blames the record labels (well, we agree on that one), every internet service out there (not kidding: "I am not a fan of any particular online company since I have had to spend the last three years of my life fighting them...."), and, of course, Google: "I am not a fan of Google because I believe their search algorithm reduces all art to the lowest common denominator. That's a real culture-killer if I ever saw one."

Yup, hand this man one of the greatest tools for promoting, discovering and distributing new music for songwriters, and he hates it. It's a "culture-killer." Actually, what he really means is that it's a killer of legacy structures, and apparently he'd rather not recognize what it enables, but will complain about what it's taken away.

Carnes goes on to complain (again) about certain business models that don't work for songwriters (concerts, t-shirts), again apparently not creative enough to recognize the scarcities offered by songwriters, and then comes my favorite part:
The most infuriating thing about being lectured to by anti-copyright groups about how songwriters need to get a new 'business plan' is who gave them the right to tell us how to make a living? Who are they to say we shouldn't fight to defend our rights? In truth, I find their suggestions are unbelievably arrogant and self-serving.
This is a common complaint that we hear, and I'd like to address it head on, because it's 100% strawman, and it needs to be debunked and discarded. No one is telling them they "need" to get a new business plan. All we're doing is (a) explaining the changes in the economic and technological landscape and (b) explaining how that opens up new possibilities and (c) noting that if they choose (and it's their choice) not to adjust, they're going to be in trouble. The problem is that part (c) is happening, and rather than recognizing part (a) and (b) they're lashing out at those of us who tried to show them that there is a better way. If it's self-serving to show songwriters and musicians better ways to make a living and warning them that fundamental changes in the marketplace mean the old way can't survive, then so be it. But it's not, as Carnes and others (including Sheffner) seem to believe, an attempt to harm musicians. Songwriters don't need to change at all, but then they'll go out of business. The problem is that Carnes wants to blame everyone else -- including those who tried to suggest a better way. No good deed goes unpunished, of course.

I'm sure buggy whip makers were upset, as well, when people suggested they needed a new business model, but how many of us are really that upset about the diminished buggy whip industry these days?

Both Castle and Carnes take separate turns to suggest that anyone who's never put out a song shouldn't be allowed to comment on the matter at all -- which I'd argue could (again) easily be flipped around. Those who have never bothered to understand basic economics shouldn't be allowed to comment on business models either. Musicians are free to talk about music -- and I'd never try talking about what makes a great song, since that's not my area of expertise -- but it's somewhat ridiculous to claim that only musicians understand the economics that impact music creation. Besides -- as we've seen from our own Blaise Alleyne and Adam Singer -- there are plenty of real musicians who do, in fact, recognize the power of these issues.

And, finally, Carnes' big finale is quoting a totally unnamed "real economist" who claimed that "nothing competes with free." I could come up with a pretty long list of of examples showing musicians and songwriters who have, in point of fact, successfully competed with free and earned millions doing so. But, why let reality seep into a discussion when some unnamed "real economist" says it's impossible. But, if Carnes and Castle apparently only take lessons from real economists, rather than reality (which, of course, goes against what they said earlier in their discussion), I'd be more than willing to point them to various real economists who have shown how to compete with free -- including our most recent Nobel Prize winner.

So, of course, now that we have both real world examples and "real economists" showing how it works, I'm sure Carnes and Castle will admit that perhaps they were a little closed-minded? Or... maybe not. Cognitive dissonance will probably seep in and we'll hear about how economists don't know anything, but only real songwriters can comment on it. Well, okay, let's go back and look at the songwriters who, rather than whining and complaining about times gone by, actually bothered to understand basic economics and do something about it. How about Corey Smith, who not only figured out how to "compete with free" but figured out how to use free to make $4.2 million last year.

And then there's Trent Reznor. He figured out how to make $1.6 million in a single week for music he gave away under that "self-serving shilling for the self-absorbed on the short con" of a Creative Commons license. And, you know what? It didn't even involve t-shirts or concerts. But, you know, according to Carnes, Castle and Sheffner, that's impossible. And, we're all thieves or something. Now, Reznor and Smith are both performers as well as songwriters, but both employ a number of folks to help them do what they do (managers, tech guys, other musicians, etc.). If you're bringing in that much money "competing with free" I'd imagine spending some of it on songwriting help (for those who need it, of course) isn't that big a stretch, is it? Reality's a bitch, sometimes, ain't it?


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  1.  
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    Some Guy, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 9:45am

    *Applause*

    Wonderful post.

     

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  2.  
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    Lucretious, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 9:47am

    we had a name for guys like these when I was growing up:

    assholes

    We called them "assholes".


    sorry if that doesn't raise the intellectual level of this whole discussion but I thought I'd just throw that one in there to get things started. 'kay?

    'kay....

     

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  3.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 9:52am

    Rats, here I go again...

    Mike:

    You have to stop writing posts that I generally agree with. I am going to start getting a reputation as anti-copyright, which is untrue.

    The market has already changed. I recently discovered that BMG Music, the people that essentially took over Columbia record club (then Columbia House, and Play, and who remembers what else), is going away. CD sales continue to drop (though old timer that I am, I still buy them). They may make a long, slow decline to nothingness as electronic media and storage get cheaper and better.

    What I find annoying is that there is currently no one, either on the radio or on the internet, that adequately caters to my music taste, and I suspect the music tastes of many others (read, business opportunity awaits). I would love to find a music site that lets me "try before you buy" that categorizes music into nice genres I can explore and hear samples (or whole songs, as a teaser), like my favorite, progressive rock. The market has been ripe for expanded internet offerings of music for a while now, and yet very few people are exploiting those opportunities. I do not count iTurds or whatever they call themselves. I do not have an iPod or subscribe to iTunes or iAnything, and probably never will.

    While I am sad that music is not as accessible in some ways as it once was, what saddens me more is the best artists get insufficient exposure on corporate controlled media that cater to mediocrity (American Idol flavor of the season, anyone?). What saddens me most is the apparent lack of entrepreneurship in music on the internet. Yes, some artists are doing it, but an insufficient number to have a real affect, so far.

    Can someone please point me to a web site where I can hear great new progressive rock groups and buy their music on CD? Please? Anyone?

     

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  4.  
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    Lucretious, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 9:59am

    Re: Rats, here I go again...

    live365.com used to be a great place to catch indie and unsigned artists in countless niche genres. I'm not sure how the relatively recent tax has affected them but give it a shot.

     

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    PaulT (profile), Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 10:10am

    Nice article, though I fear it will fall on deaf ears. I'd like to make a quick comment to the people who believe these guys position, though:

    -------------------------------

    Your actions are what's killing the music industry. There are people like me who boycott the RIAA and major labels, choosing to buy either direct from the artist, independent sites like eMusic and AmieStreet or literally just go without.

    10 years ago, I didn't care which label my CD was distributed by. Now, if I see an RIAA label on it, I ignore it. Not pirate it. Not "borrow" it. Not stream it. I pretend it doesn't exist and I look for other sources of music. Usually the music is of higher quality - I would much rather listen to Cheryl B. Engelhardt than Britney Spears any day of the week, and guess which one has the "professional" songwriters that are so promoted by the majors?

    For every "pirate" you claim to despite, there's many people like me who - consciously or not - have opted to avoid the major labels and listen to something better instead. Some do this by ignoring new music and listening to their old CDs. Some don't buy and listen to radio or podcasts. Some pirate. Whatever they choose, the current action being taken do nothing to help the industry, and it will just get worse unless "professionals" start changing the way they do business.

    Music will be around forever. The "right" to make money from a piece of work you made 50 years ago will disappear or become irrelevant. I fail to see the problem with this, and *I'm* one of the people you're supposedly trying to convince to pay you!

     

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    Chronno S. Trigger, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 10:15am

    Re: Rats, here I go again...

    I found a few good artists from Pandora radio (if you're in the USA). Getting the CDs will involve a trip to the store or Amazon but it may point you in the right direction.

    "What saddens me most is the apparent lack of entrepreneurship in music on the internet. Yes, some artists are doing it, but an insufficient number to have a real affect, so far."

    I think that may be the overall point of Mike's article. Because of Castle, Carnes, and other crones, signed artists aren't allowed to use the Internet to it's full potential. And they even convince some of the not signed people that the Internet is a bad thing.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 10:19am

    I'm glad to note that this time you called it the "diminished buggy whip industry". :)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 10:20am

    How gratifying it must be to be an expert in every field of creative endeavor, and to find amusing the opinions of others who express concerns that run afoul of your "economics altar".

    Yes, seeing everything in black and white, without shades of gray, must be truly gratifying.

     

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  9.  
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    Xan, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 10:23am

    Here is a new business model for songwriters

    1. Write a song
    2. Sell it
    3. Repeat.

     

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  10.  
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    mattg, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 10:23am

    pandora.com

    pandora.com "learns" what your specific tastes are and plays music that you will probably like. Don't like that particular song? give it a thumbs down and your taste algorithm adjusts. or give it a thumbs up and again, your taste algorithm is adjusted. Pretty soon you'll be hearing only music that you do like. This is one of those new business models that Mike mentioned above where the old, ignorant and lazy folks who are the RIAA didn't want to see happen. Old people can be stubborn like that.

    I don't know if pandora.com sells CD's but you can certainly try before you buy. I listen to all kinds of bands that I've never heard of. Yes, just like the internet, there's lots of garbage available but there's always some golden nuggets in there to pick up.

     

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    Different Mike, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 10:24am

    To the Anon above me: Wow, that's great. Mike writes a long, very well detailed analysis of the situation, and your best response is two sentences of attack without even mentioning anything he wrote about? I hope all Copywrong apologists are like you.

     

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  12.  
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    Chris, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 10:24am

    Re: Rats, here I go again...

    I recommend Pandora internet radio. Pick a song or artist that you like and it will find music similar to that. For each song that play, it provides a link to buy it on iTunes or Amazon.

     

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    Casey, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 10:30am

    This is a wonderful article. I hope it doesn't violate any copywrite law but I just sent it to my wife and a few friends with a "Must Read" header. Told them there would be a quiz on it tonight.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 10:31am

    Re:

    Wow, that's great.

    I am pleased you liked it.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 10:32am

    I get paid --once

    If I wire up a sound system for a studio session I get paid once. If it is tricky I get paid more, but I get paid once.

    I am talented at what I do. Songwriters are talented at what they do (Well, some of them are. Some of them write the mediocre blather that the labels promote.)

    I don't understand why songwriters think their great grandchildren should be getting paid for their work. But the reality is that the songwriters are not the ones getting paid in most casts. In most cases they sold their rights to the labels.

     

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    larry g, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 10:32am

    Re: Rats, here I go again...

    Not knowing your age and preferred music genre doesn't really matter but my 20 year old son who enjoys a lot of the same music turned me on to pandora.com -- it allows one to customize one's own radio station and add / delete artists / songs as it develops -- of course it's free. I still buy CDs.....

     

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    COD (profile), Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 10:34am

    CDbaby.com still sells the plastic discs, and there is a lot of great music there. Aimestreet.com is another place to discover new music, although finding the plastic discs might be more problematic for anything you like there.

    Oh, and great article Mike. I hope we see Castle and Carnes in the comments here.

     

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  18.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 10:39am

    Re:

    Assuming you're replying to the AC who wrote:

    "How gratifying it must be to be an expert in every field of creative endeavor, and to find amusing the opinions of others who express concerns that run afoul of your "economics altar".

    Yes, seeing everything in black and white, without shades of gray, must be truly gratifying."

    I believe that he is actually commenting about what Castle and Carnes said, not what Mike said.

    What Mike said is a vary wide scale of gray and what C&C said is vary much black and white. We are ether on their side or on the pirates.

     

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  19.  
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    Gunnar, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 10:42am

    Has Vic Ruggiero done anything with free as a business model, or is he just included in the list as a personal favorite indie artist?

    Because I'm sick of having to point to bands I don't really like (Radiohead and NIN) as examples of free working.

     

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  20.  
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    Mike (profile), Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 10:43am

    Re:

    How gratifying it must be to be an expert in every field of creative endeavor, and to find amusing the opinions of others who express concerns that run afoul of your "economics altar".


    MLS, even for you, you seem to have reached a new low in trolling today. In almost every post you are simply trashing me, sarcastically saying something similar to the point above, without ever actually offering a single point to refute.

    This shows, once again, that you are simply lying when you claim (as you have repeatedly in the past) that you only comment to add facts to the debate, and that you never stoop to insults.

    Of course, these days, you do insult, but you do so anonymously. It's not difficult to figure out who you are though.

    If you have something substantive to add, I'm sure we'd all like to hear it. Instead, you simply swing by, insult, and leave. And you were the one accusing the "younger generation" of having no morals? Take a look in the mirror, Mr. Slonecker.

     

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    Tamayu, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 10:49am

    2 shay!

    Well played and poignant!

     

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    Ima Fish, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 10:52am

    "The most infuriating thing about being lectured to by anti-copyright groups about how songwriters need to get a new 'business plan' is who gave them the right to tell us how to make a living?"

    The answer to this is simple: If you don't want to be lectured, stop asking for help. Solve your problem yourself.

    In other words, once you ask the government, ISPs, or anyone else to help protect your outdated business model, we have the right to tell you to go to heck.

    Some don't tell you to go to heck and will instead politely and intelligently give the music industry some alternatives that do not involve government protection of an outdated business model.

    The fact that the music industry is annoyed by this help is in itself highly annoying. Once again, the fact that your business model is dead is not my problem. It's not the government's problem. It's not Google's problem. And it's certainly not my ISP's problem.

    Fix it yourself or die trying. On the other hand, if you ask the world for help, expect the world to have opinions on how to best help.

     

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  23.  
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    Urza, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 10:52am

    Re: Rats, here I go again...

    Try www.last.fm

    If you're _really_ picky about what you like (as I am), try this too:
    http://playground.last.fm/multitag

    Lets you type in as many 'tags' as you want to search for music that fits those categories. Quite nice to play around with. And once you build up a profile (many music players can upload what you play to the site - I even have my iPod uploading) it'll start giving you recommendations. The best (IMO) is the 'neighbor radio' station, because that will look for other people that listen to the same stuff you do and play whatever else they like. Works quite well.

     

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    thomas, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 10:53am

    Dispensing With Some Myths About The Poor Poor Songwriters Decimated By Piracy

    I get your point that the music industry needs to embrace change and start doing things differently but that doesn't make stealing music the right thing to do simply becuase the industry doesnt deliver things the way you want them.
    stealing is wrong and there are plenty of artists impacted.

    your constant comparison to the telegraph and telephone dont really get the job done. Nice article though...

     

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    Truth Buster Buster, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 10:56am

    It's all BS

    My brother is an amateur songwriter and singer, I'd gladly be locked in a room with 95% of his songs or his friends songs - who is also a writer.

    It's incredibly arrogant to assume that only "professional writers" make write good songs. Because most of the cr*p on the air today is from "professional" writers. I know... I'm a DJ... I hear it all.

     

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    Mike (profile), Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 10:59am

    Re: Dispensing With Some Myths About The Poor Poor Songwriters Decimated By Piracy

    I get your point that the music industry needs to embrace change and start doing things differently but that doesn't make stealing music the right thing to do simply becuase the industry doesnt deliver things the way you want them.
    stealing is wrong and there are plenty of artists impacted.

    your constant comparison to the telegraph and telephone dont really get the job done


    I would argue that the telegraph and telephone comparisons are quite apt. That's because the issue isn't about "stealing" as you claim, but about how net technologies change the market place. In one case, it's that operators aren't needed to handle direct dial any more, and in the other it's because traditional distribution methods (plastic discs) aren't needed to distribute music any more. Both moves totally changed the economics of those industries.

    But, your point about "stealing" is a total red herring. It's not stealing, first of all. No one is missing anything. It's copying, and potentially infringement. There's a big difference. And considering that we've been showing example after example after example after example of musicians figuring out how to make more money by embracing it, to claim that artists are "impacted" is pretty silly, don't you think? The only reason they're impacted is because *they* choose not to do anything to change with the market. Just like telephone operators who lost their job and didn't join the modern technology revolution.

     

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    Urza, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 11:00am

    Re: I get paid --once

    I agree, but the analogy doesn't quite work. I mean, your work isn't essentially a series of bits. I can't upload your speaker wiring to my computer and make a copy of it. The real intent of copyright is to protect information, since it doesn't follow the same rules as concrete goods. Copyright has been greatly perverted so that, as you stated, great grandchildren are getting paid for an artist's work, but it does have it's place. Make it 5-10 years and we'll be good.

    The other problem is that it's hard to put a value on a song before it's written. When you wire a sound system, the deal is basically that if you do it the way they want and it works, you get paid $x. That'd be like telling an artist that if they write a song and it sells over x copies, they get $y. But it's quite difficult to track sales if everyone is distributing their own copies. And it's difficult to monetize them.

    But then, perhaps we shouldn't be paying for creativity at all. I mean, why should we pay for something that really has no cost of production?

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    zcat, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 11:02am

    Re:

    All this stuff is under some creative commons licence IIRC, as are most blogs that cover the same topics (Lawrence Lessig, Cory Doctrow, etc) Techdirt LOVES it when you 'share' articles with friends because it brings more readers to the blog. There's even a 'share this' button top left that even makes it easier ;)

    They don't even mind when other sites rip off the site and repost all the articles (with or without attribution) because sooner or later everyone reading those sites figures out that Techdirt is the real source and comes here. Mike's said this many times.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Man from Atlanta, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 11:09am

    Re: Rats, here I go again...

    where I can hear great new progressive rock groups and buy their music on CD:

    Amazon of all places. DRM-free too, if I am not mistaken.

    Or perhaps CDBaby, who uses longer free samples and even carried a South African indie band I used to work with.

    Good luck!

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    mobiGeek, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 11:10am

    Re: Here is a new business model for songwriters

    Alternative:

    1. Sell service to write song
    2. Write song
    3. Repeat

    I admit that getting started will involve a lot of "write song" first, but that's true of anyone trying to get started in a work-for-hire profession.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Urza, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 11:14am

    I was in a band...

    Well, as a former artist, I have the right to talk about these issues, right? lol

    We sold our CDs for $5 a piece, and hosted mp3s on our website for free. We made enough money to take care of our CD sales and pay for some of our equipment. So why the hell can't the recording industry manage selling $20 CDs and not distributing free copies online? Production isn't that expensive. It really isn't. Once you get the appropriate microphones and amps, all you really need is any old computer with a bunch of spare soundcards shoved into it. While yes, most bands use setups much more complex than that, professional recordings have been done on _much_ less (look up 'Heavenshore Studios'). There's no reason for anything that complex.

    Part of the problem is this belief that you need the best equipment and experts and years of time to make a decent recording. The stuff that they used 20 years ago you could probably get now for $50, and any artist with moderate intelligence could probably figure out on their own. It was good enough then, it's good enough now. Grab an old computer with some extra soundcards, wire everything into that and get some decent recording software and you can make a high quality recording in a couple days at most. We don't need million dollar recording studios, we don't need million dollar sound guys. We don't need huge assembly lines cranking out CDs. We don't need massive marketing departments. We don't need full-time artists. Some of my favorite bands have other jobs. They still tour worldwide, and they still produce good music. They do it for the art, not for the money. And there's no reason with modern technology for the massive infrastructure of the record industry and the huge associated costs.

     

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  32.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 11:18am

    Thanks...

    Thanks to everyone who provided information on places to get good new music (Pandora.com was one, but there are others, and links; I will check them out).

    I dislike Amazon for recommendations because they are somewhat incoherent in terms of genre. Part of that may be because I buy and look at too many genres.

    Lastly, thanks to the person who pointed out Mike's characterization of the buggy whip industry; it was correct!

     

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  33.  
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    Man from Atlanta, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 11:20am

    Re:

    These songwriters and music industry "supporters" do have an alternative business model. They do not make money from art, they seek to protect and increase their largesse by government intervention. It's not the creation of wealth they are after, it is redistribution to they want for their own gain.

    I am not anti-copyright, but I do think that it has been taken by some far beyond what is necessary to protect songwriters and is used instead to fill the coffers of some in the "music industry."

     

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  34.  
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    Man from Atlanta, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 11:26am

    Re: I was in a band...

    I 90% agree with you. The barrier to entry into the "music market" is much lower than 20 years ago. However, I'm still blown away by how much skilled professionals can improve a recording at the production and mastering stages. That is definitely still an art!

     

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  35.  
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    Ima Fish, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 11:29am

    Re: Rats, here I go again...

    "What I find annoying is that there is currently no one, either on the radio or on the internet, that adequately caters to my music taste"

    Well, I personally had not heard music I wanted to buy on the radio since the 70s. However, I wanted to comment about your problem.

    The first has to do with advertising. I remember reading an article about how people over 40 were the largest buyers of music in CD format, ba overwhelming wide margin. However, in terms of advertising dollars, that same market was at the bottom in dollars spent.

    Of course someone in the advertising industry was asked why the the largest group of CD buyers were mostly ignored by the music industry. That someone responded with complete BS: the musical tastes of those over 40 is too diverse. But of course the fact that advertisers are not telling those over 40 what to listen to will cause them to search out and find their own music, which necessarily will lead to diverse tastes among the entire group. So that response is nonsense. To put it another way, there used to be (and still are) plenty of soda bottlers. The reason the vast majority of soda drinkers focus on either Coke or Pepsi products is due solely to advertising focusing their tastes.

    The real reason advertisers ignore those over 40 is because the entire advertising industry is geared towards the young. Way back in the 60s advertisers started to gear to the "new" youth market. They started hiring younger copy writers. Then they started using even younger interns.

    It's a simple fact that a 20 year old has no fricken clue how to create an ad for someone in his 40s. (Much in the same way that someone in his 40s had no clue how to advertise to a 20 year old back in the 60s.) To summarize, despite the fact that those over 40 have the most disposable income, we're also compeltely ignored by the vast majority of advertisers.

    "Can someone please point me to a web site where I can hear great new progressive rock groups and buy their music on CD? Please? Anyone?"

    For most of the 80s and 90s I bought music based on word of mouth from my friends. One of them would hear about some new band and pass it on to everyone else. In the early 90s I went to law school and couldn't hang out with freinds. Accordingly, I stopped buying music because I was not exposed to new music.

    Napster (the original) changed that. Because you were downloading from one person (as opposed to hundreds as you are with bittorrent) you could check out his or her share folder for new music. Basically, if he was downnloading Fishbone from you, maybe there is something he has that you'd like. Suddenly I was being exposed to new music and started buying CDs again. That basically ended with Napster's death.

    I wish there was a similar program that would help me buy music, but unfortuntely the music industry killed it off.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 11:29am

    Re: Re:

    Of course, telling persons with opposing views that they are sorely lacking in their understanding of economics and should take Econ 101 is a significant contribution to their professional growth, and I am confident that the advice is graciously received and appreciated.

    I am equally confident that Mr. Sheffner and Mr. Castle will be quite pleased to learn that their comments engendered much amusement.

     

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  37.  
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    Ima Fish, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 11:33am

    Re: Re: I was in a band...

    I have to disagree about the mastering aspect. Nowadays that kills most music.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loudness_war

     

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  38.  
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    Lucretious, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 11:36am

    Re: Dispensing With Some Myths About The Poor Poor Songwriters Decimated By Piracy

    I get your point that the music industry needs to embrace change and start doing things differently but that doesn't make stealing music the right thing to do simply becuase the industry doesnt deliver things the way you want them.
    stealing is wrong and there are plenty of artists impacted.


    As much of a simplistic moron that I am (I realize I don't contribute much to the discussion on this site) at least I can recognize the fact that no one is giving the thumbs up to "stealing". Yet people like yourself continue to insist that anti-copyright proponents are all for theft.

    Piracy simply is. You're NOT going to guilt people into buying something that they can steal anonymously. You're NOT going to find a magic bullet solution in the form of hardware or software protection/DRM. You certainly can't prosecute millions of folks from all corners of the globe. And the part that people like yourself just don't grasp is that you can whine about it, scream about it, break down in hysterics, write endless rants in your blog.....it won't change.

    or...

    You can try to change the game and work around it by finding new ways to extract income from your work. I'm pretty sure people like the attorneys who are the subject of Mikes deconstruction know this and are simply afraid to face their inevitable demise. Piracy will also become redundant as well once musicians understand that the day of advances from big publishers are over. They can reap the rewards of their work themselves without the need of an army of lawyers who are supposedly there to "protect" the musician.

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    Xiera, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 11:42am

    Re: Rats, here I go again...

    As many people have mentioned, pandora is a great site for that.

    A little bit of a personal story in the event that the RIAA finds its way here. Once upon a time, I illegally downloaded music by a band called Lacuna Coil. It just so happened that I liked what I heard. I currently own (as in 'I have purchased') 4 CDs by Lacuna Coil.

    If only it stopped there! Having been alerted of a band called Nightwish that has a similar sound as Lacuna Coil (even though they are different genres), I downloaded music by them. I have since purchased 6 CDs and a DVD by Nightwish. I then looked for similar artists in Pandora. I have purchased 5 Kamelot CDs, 2 Sonata Arctica CDs, 2 Symphony X CDs, 3 Within Temptation CDs, among many, many others.

    What an evil pirate I was. Having discovered what kind of music I like, I now use pandora to find similar artists and, with the advent of Youtube, no longer have a need to pirate music to listen to it before I buy. (I'm sorry, but 30 second clips don't do a song any justice. People who actually understand music know this.)

    Also, and this one goes out to the artists themselves: if you have music that isn't available on one of your CDs, please make it available on your website. I'm looking at you, Nightwish: I would like a copy of "While Your Lips Are Still Red".

     

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  40.  
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    Xiera, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 12:01pm

    Re: Re: Dispensing With Some Myths About The Poor Poor Songwriters Decimated By Piracy

    You're almost there, but you don't finish off the job.

    The problem is that the *lawyers* are the ones calling the shots. They're telling the music industry that pirating music is bad because it means less revenue (which is easy for the music industry to understand) and they're telling the music industry that there are laws that can protect them. The *lawyers* are basically keeping themselves employed. These alternative business models don't threaten the artists, they don't even threaten the record labels, which can still have a role in promoting artists, they threaten the *lawyers*. The lawyers are simply PROTECTING THEMSELVES.

    Even if we (incorrectly) assume for a second that the lawyers have the music industry's best interests at heart, their specialisation is *law*, not economics, and not business. They choose litigation because that's what they know and are comfortable with. They don't understand economics or business sense, so they avoid it.

     

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  41.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 12:05pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Of course, telling persons with opposing views that they are sorely lacking in their understanding of economics and should take Econ 101 is a significant contribution to their professional growth, and I am confident that the advice is graciously received and appreciated.

    MLS, I'm assuming you missed the point where we actually explained *WHY* they were being economically clueless. Unlike you who stopped by with a blanket insult backed up by nothing.

    For someone who repeatedly accused us of misstating things, it's amusing to watch you try to justify your blanket insults based on nothing.

    I back up my statements. Would be lovely if you tried doing the same sometime.

     

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  42.  
    identicon
    Twinrova, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 12:12pm

    Avast ye, matey!

    I can not remember the last time I've purchased a CD. I've never downloaded from a website (iTunes, etc). In fact, my music now comes from Limewire.

    I'm on a mission which has nothing to do with artists, but the very industry they signed with. My mission is simple: recoup the thousands of dollars I've spent on music in my lifetime for tracks I did not want.

    I'm going to continue this quest until 500,000 songs are in my library, giving not one red cent to the recording industry. And best of all, I don't feel an ounce of guilt doing it.

    I don't feel I'm taking anything away from an artist who contracts with the recording industry. That's their bed they must lie in. All the issues with the recording industry has nothing to do with me, except when it comes to actually buying music. Let them whine (as they have for the past 20 years) about their "royalties and payments" they expect. You greedy asses don't deserve my hard earned cash if you feel $10 million just isn't enough.

    So, to all those out there who continue offering music to the world, thank you. I hope you remain under the radar to stay out of RIAA's grasp and continue with much success.

    It's about time consumers fight back and the fact they can do so without supporting an industry that's screwed them for decades keeps me happy.

    So, RIAA (and other moronic copyright defenders), go screw yourselves. You will never, ever, ever receive another dime from me again. I'd rather go without music than cater to your greed and creative stifling.

    As for Castle and Carnes, you two have to be so mentally challenged, for you to contradict yourselves with your very blogs is appalling to anyone who actually takes the time to read your spouting crap.

    If either of you two had any clue, I would consider trying to understand your arguments, but alas, you spit rhetoric which is inaccurate and misleading. I'll break it down for you to understand: you can not put a price on an idea, and that's exactly what copyright does.

    But obviously, you two feel you can. I'll keep this in mind the next time you use the ideals of those who created the internet to give you a website to which you can spit your crap out but yet you pay nothing to them to use.

    When Tim Berners-Lee notifies me you two has sent him millions for his idea, which was done without copyright by the way, I'll be more likely to take your side.

    Until then, STFU!

     

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  43.  
    identicon
    Valkor, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 12:33pm

    Re:

    "...we have the right to tell you to go to heck."

    If we get really upset, we may even darn you and the horse you came in on!

     

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  44.  
    identicon
    Devonavar, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 12:58pm

    You missed this...

    Since I can't post on the actual transcript without signing up and having it moderated, I'm posting this here. From the interview:

    "The real role of songwriters in the music business is to add meaning to people’s lives.

    That is not a job you want to leave to amateurs. It is a job for professionals. "

    That's it, I'm divorcing my wife and finding myself a professional. I think I'll have a more meaningful life that way.

    Sorry to be snide, but, seriously, how can they possibly think that the meaning in peoples lives only comes (or best comes) from professional efforts?

     

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  45.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 1:05pm

    Re: Avast ye, matey!

    Tim Berners-Lee

    Why stop there? Why not go back to the ARPANET and its precursors?

     

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  46.  
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    mike42 (profile), Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 1:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Now, Mike, stop playing with the troll. You know it only encourages them. Just leave it alone and let it dissolve into a festering puddle of ridiculousness.

     

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  47.  
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    PaulT (profile), Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 1:20pm

    Re: You missed this...

    It's the only way they can justify their existence, I'm afraid. The pop music churned out by many of these "professionals" is so tired and generic that they have to sell to young teenagers through mass-media blitzes and hope they don't know any better. If they had to depend on older listeners or compete with talented songwriters for attention, they'd starve.

    Meanwhile, there are thousands of talented "amateurs" who simply lack the same exposure as they do, because the "professionals" traditionally hold all the promotional cards. That's changing, they're scared so they become defensive and pretend that their services are vital.

     

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  48.  
    identicon
    David, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 1:27pm

    get to the point

    While I would probably agree with Mike, I couldn't make it through his wordiness to find his points.

     

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  49.  
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    chris (profile), Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 1:35pm

    Re: Dispensing With Some Myths About The Poor Poor Songwriters Decimated By Piracy

    I get your point that the music industry needs to embrace change and start doing things differently but that doesn't make stealing music the right thing to do simply becuase the industry doesnt deliver things the way you want them.
    stealing is wrong and there are plenty of artists impacted.


    this isn't about right or wrong. it's about the fact that you can't stop what's happening. it's happening now and it will continue to happen to a greater and greater extent.

    if you think downloading is wrong, then don't do it. if you think you can stop it, then make your move. unless you are willing to put a bullet between the eyes of every downloader on the planet, i guarantee you that it won't work.

    stop wasting your time and, in the case with the RIAA, stop wasting money on tactics that don't work.

    suing people won't work, blocking P2P traffic won't work, digital rights management won't work, and filling up blog comments about how downloading is wrong won't work either.

    people don't buy CD's in the quantities that they used to, and the quantities that are being sold at will continue to diminish until the CD is specialty relic for enthusiasts, just like vinyl.

     

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  50.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 1:35pm

    Re:

    Hey, at least your name is right.

     

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  51.  
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    y8, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 1:36pm

    Get a life

    Why would I lock myself in a room for an hour listening to the same song over and over, that would be moronic even if I like the song. So to begin an argument by suggesting that I should do something moronic seems counterproductive at best.

    By the way, which of these Gershwin public domain songs should I listen to for an hour?

    An American in Paris
    The Man I Love
    Of Thee I Sing
    Piano Concerto
    Porgy and Bess
    3 Preludes
    Rhapsody in blue
    Rialto Ripples Rag
    I Got Rhythm

    The International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP.org) makes money by giving away public domain music scores (over 25,000 scores in the library). But wait, it's been 'proven' that you can't compete with free! It must be magic, or maybe just a different kind of business plan.

    Their stated goals are: "The ultimate goal of the IMSLP is to gather all public domain music scores, in addition to the music scores of all contemporary composers who wish to release them to the public free of charge. However, another main goal of IMSLP is to facilitate the exchange of musical ideas outside of compositions: for example, the analysis of a particular piece of music. We hope to build a growing community of dedicated musicians and music lovers, who can use this site as a platform for enjoying music. "

    This isn't exactly a huge money making scheme, but they do pay the bills when people buy scarcities like paper copies of the scores or books from links they have to Yahoo! Imagine that, giving away unlimited goods and making money from scarcities. Who would have thought it was possible? They also link to recordings of the scores and get paid when people buy the recordings.

     

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  52.  
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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 1:38pm

    Re: Rats, here I go again...

     

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  53.  
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    chris (profile), Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 1:38pm

    Re: Re: I was in a band...

    so, if a "skilled professional" could provide his service faster and with fewer expenses, why wouldn't he or she do so?

     

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  54.  
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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 1:47pm

    Re: Re:

    Techdirt doesn't use a Creative Commons license, but people can do whatever they want with the content (as if it were in the public domain, basically). A link back is nice though!

     

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  55.  
    identicon
    Nathan, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 1:47pm

    Ridiculous

    "it's somewhat ridiculous to claim that only musicians understand the economics that impact music creation."

    In fact, if you look at both the history and current issues involving the recording industry you find countless examples of record labels exploiting musician's lack of understanding economics for their own financial gain.

     

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  56.  
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    Man from Atlanta, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 1:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: I was in a band...

    I believe they do offer their services. Here's one of the more famous mastering outfits as an example. However, I'm not sure people go to Bob Ludwig thinking "cost effective."

    http://www.gatewaymastering.com/

     

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  57.  
    identicon
    Jan, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 2:38pm

    where to find free music?

    I am sick of those RIAA etc. guys and I don't want their music anymore... I don't even want to 'pirate' it.

    Where can I get some free music? And I don't mean free as a beer, I mean free as not related to guys who want the whole world to turn back just because they are not able to adapt - I want them to starve to death so I am not going to buy anything produced by a big label backed up by RIAA.

    I would love to have some internet radio with some recommendation engine - you were talking about Pandora but Pandora is not available outside USA (and I think it's because of licensing... so it is not free music either)... do you know about any place where I could listen to free music easily? I don't have time to go over MySpace looking for good bands.

    Thank you for your tips.

     

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  58.  
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    jonnnyq, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 2:46pm

    Songwriters who don't perform

    There are songwriters who don't perform at all.

    I'm having trouble seeing how they would succeed without the copyright lottery.

    If you're an acclaimed songwriter, you could sell commissioned works to artists.

    If you're a startup songwriter, you could give away songs to artists hoping they'll commission something later, and that could make money, but I don't see that as a real solution.

    Or it could be that songwriters who don't perform really just won't succeed. Do we really need a market that pays songwriters for not performing? Most (good) artists write their own stuff, and there are songwriters willing to do work for free. Maybe that's enough for that particular market.

    I've always wondered about this particular question, and after reading all this, I still don't see much of an answer. It seems like Mike is alluding to commissioned work (scarce time and skill), but is that all?

     

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  59.  
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    Mike (profile), Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 2:59pm

    Re: Songwriters who don't perform

    I'm having trouble seeing how they would succeed without the copyright lottery.

    Just because you have trouble seeing it doesn't mean that they wouldn't be able to succeed.

    If you're a startup songwriter, you could give away songs to artists hoping they'll commission something later, and that could make money, but I don't see that as a real solution.

    Curious. How does a "startup songwriter" get noticed nowadays with the "copyright lottery"? How would it be any different without copyright?

    Or it could be that songwriters who don't perform really just won't succeed. Do we really need a market that pays songwriters for not performing? Most (good) artists write their own stuff, and there are songwriters willing to do work for free. Maybe that's enough for that particular market.

    There's that, but I actually think that there would be strong demand for good songwriters as well. It need not be "commissioned" work. What's wrong with salaried work? As we keep showing, there are numerous business models around music that bring in plenty of money. It's not difficult to see how a label could employ songwriters for its artists that need such help.

     

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  60.  
    identicon
    nasch, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 3:34pm

    Re: Re: I get paid --once

    1) The purpose of copyright is SUPPOSED to be to encourage production of creative works. Not to protect information, or artists.

    2) You're right, it needs to be much shorter.

    3) The fact that some people have trouble figuring out how to make their business model works is not a good reason to enforce artificial monopolies.

    4) Perhaps we shouldn't be worrying about how to enforce copyright when it's becoming ever more clear that creativity with continue with or without it. When the purpose of copyright law will be satisfied even if the laws are abolished... why do we still have those laws? Are they needed at all? I'm not sure. It's an academic point since they're obviously not going away any time soon.

     

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  61.  
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    anonymous +1, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 3:37pm

    Freaking outstanding.

    But I am sure those who support copyright twisting will no doubt see some "flaw"in your write-up.

    What I would love to see though, is an open debate on youtube between copyright holders and the people, such as yourself, that are trying to show them why they are hurting not only themselves, but different industries as a whole.

     

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  62.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 3:38pm

    What's wrong with salaried work?

    What's wrong with "contingent payment" work?

     

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  63.  
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    Mike (profile), Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 3:44pm

    Re:

    What's wrong with "contingent payment" work?

    Nothing. If the market will support that. And the evidence suggests it won't for much longer.

     

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  64.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 4:20pm

    Re: It's all BS

    stealing is an incorrect term. the bands still have their original copy, the phrase you are looking for is unauthorized copying

     

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  65.  
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    Anonymous, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 4:31pm

    Mr Masnick,

    Your post is generally thorough and poignant. However, you miss the mark widely with the following blow:

    "At least the [Congressional] Members I have talked to understand that the Constitution includes provisions for royalties for creators because without them the quality of life suffers."
    "Interesting. Makes you wonder why Congress didn't mandate full protection for telegraph and phone operators when technologies changed how those professions worked as well. After all, I'm sure -- temporarily -- those workers saw their quality of life decline."

    Carnes is clearly talking about the quality of life for society, not just the creators' own quality of life as you imply. He is saying that society has a vested interest in encouraging creativity, which motivates Congressional protections. Justified or not, it's a more interesting and nuanced position than you give him credit for. You do yourself a disservice in setting up and attacking the straw man of constitutionally protecting telegraph and phone operators from job cuts.

    Carnes and crew have offered up a ridiculously easy target in the rest of their words... there's no need to misrepresent this particular quote for cheap points.

     

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  66.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 4:42pm

    Re: Re: Rats, here I go again...

    Fish:

    You are so right. If the artist is anything other than a mega seller like Hannah Montana (just put me out of my misery now, please) or any of the other cookie cutter teen bands that NO ONE remembers five years later, it seems that music promoters are uninterested. Too bad. There was a time when artists like The Troggs, Cream, The Kinks, and dozens or hundreds more appealed to relatively small niche markets. Some of these groups went on to become big sellers. Many are now considered classic rock. Many of those considered classic rock were never big sellers, even by the standards of the 60's and 70's. Yet, even lesser known groups are famous because their music is enduring and different, especially from the commercial garbage foisted on us today.

    I would buy a lot more CD's (yes, I am over 40), but it is tough to find good ones, and I have already bought most of the classic rock I wanted (though I could easily buy another couple hundred CD's of classic rock and other music, if it was readily available).

    The old line music industry may be targeting the market that buys the most of any one CD or downloads of particular songs, but they are missing huge portions of the market (like me).

     

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  67.  
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    Dale78484, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 4:51pm

    "nothing competes with free."

    LOL - Just looking from my desk right this second...

    My office offers free coffee and yet, everyday I see lines of people from the office in line for Tim Hortons coffee across the hall. Same with water fountain all over the place. Yet hundreds of bottles of water are sold every day on this campus.

     

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  68.  
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    M. MccLanahan, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 4:59pm

    Over 40

    I remember when recordable tape player's would be the death of the music industry, then it was recordable VHS/Beta, being the death of the movie industry. Some how I think they will continue to live on. Same old screaming different format.

     

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  69.  
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    Mike Raphone, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 5:11pm

    Try selling quality rather than so loud.

    Until the music industry promotes musicians that are skilled rather than musicians that are hot listeners, will not be able to justify purchasing music on high quality media.

    The music industry tried to pitch the Super Audio Compact Disk because they claimed that the quality of the sound reproduced by an SACD Player was better than a standard CD. Because of the amount of compression used on most recordings a listener cannot tell the difference between the quality of an SACD a CD or an MP3.

    One has to go back to classical music or popular music played by skilled musicians when the quality of the performance was the key to success. Most listeners are satisfied with MP3's which clearly cannot produce the same resolution of even an ordinary CD.

    The music industry's new business model should use downloaded MP3's as samplers to give listeners an incentive to purchase music on high quality media.

     

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  70.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 5:46pm

    Re:

    --- said the man from the RIAA

     

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  71.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 5:48pm

    Re: Re:

    Congratulation, Mike, you just owned him. :D

     

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  72.  
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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 6:05pm

    Re: Songwriters who don't perform

    The model that songwriters have followed in the past few decades is quite a recent phenomenon. Even going back as far as the 1950s, you can see other examples like the Brill Building which involve a ton of scarcities that could be monetized without copyright. Not to say that the Brill Building is the future or ideal model, but things have already changed a lot in the last century.

    Also, it's important to note that commissioned works don't mean only writing songs for other recording artists. A lot of songwriters I know make quite a bit of their money writing original compositions for film and television.

    I got into this sort of debate with a local songwriter last summer and he kept coming back to the point that "if artists aren't making money from their music, how are they supposed to have the money to pay session musicians or songwriters?" Once you realize that the premise of the question is false (artists are making money, with the right type of business model), then it seems clear that so long as artists need the services of songwriters or session musicians, there will be a market there.


    Plus... some artists embrace the economic aspect without embracing free culture. For example, Trent Reznor is a shining example of these business models in practice, but he uses a CC BY-NC-SA license, which still remains some rights given to him by copyright (e.g. he can collect performance royalties for radio airplay, people can't sell his music).

    I admit that the non-performing songwriter is a bit of a tricky case for me too, but if there's a demand for the service there will be a market and there will be some way that someone will figure out to make it work. The efforts of all these "protectors" of songwriters to insist that that way must involve copyright is doing songwriters everywhere a real disservice.

     

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  73.  
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    cram, Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 6:30pm

    Hi Mike

    "...they simply look at one or two business models being used by some (t-shirts! concerts!) and insist that's really all there is."

    I think the main reason people have a tough time accepting "the new way" is precisely this: there is no one-size-fits-all model in the new scheme of things. And that is scary for a whole lot of people: earlier things were much simpler - there was one way of doing things, you just had to join the queue. There was one bandwagon to the pot o' gold and you only had to hop on to it. Now there are hundreds of roads, and each one driving his own vehicle. Which road do you take?

    With this Internet thingy and all, each one has to craft a business model that suits him, which is a lot more hard work and one that may or may not pay off. The future's uncertain, the end is always near - and that's freaking out a lot of people.

    "It's not that difficult to figure out how this works, if you look at a few other industries that employ "writers" and realize that songwriting can be compensated in much the same way."

    Surely you should know that monetization is not all that easy, especially when "writing" differs greatly from industry to industry. It's a bit disingenuous to claim that songwriters can be compensated the same way as, say, textbook writers, or screenplay writers.

    "Eventually, phone technology reached a point where we could all make those connections ourselves, putting lots of phone operators out of work..."

    I disagree with that example. You're talking about tech obsolescence, he's talking about how tech is making, or threatening to make, a totally unrelated set of people and their job obsolete.

    "Interesting. Makes you wonder why Congress didn't mandate full protection for telegraph and phone operators when technologies changed how those professions worked as well."

    There you go aain! These professions are not creative endeavours...there's always the danger of a machine replacing a few hundred people, it's a given. But no machine can replace a creative person...however, what it CAN do is take away the traditional source of income.

    "I'm sure buggy whip makers were upset, as well, when people suggested they needed a new business model, but how many of us are really that upset about the diminished buggy whip industry these days?"

    I have to disagree again. Buggy whip makers were forced to change their business, not their business model - because no "new" business model would have saved their asses. It's time you started using a new analogy.

    "Those who have never bothered to understand basic economics shouldn't be allowed to comment on business models either."

    What about people who do understand basic economics, but who also realize that doing business and succeeding in it involves a whole lot of other things too. Shouldn't they be allowed to comment too?

    Basic economics has been around for some time now, at least the whole of the 20th century, when a great many creative people were making a lot of money. Didn't they understand basic economics?

    "But, why let reality seep into a discussion when some unnamed "real economist" says it's impossible."

    Perhaps it is impossible for some, and not all, people to compete with free. I'd like to know what your take is: do you believe absolutely everyone and everything can compete with free? Or let's word it this way: is it at all possible, in your opinion, that there may be some who cannot compete with free?

     

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  74.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Feb 3rd, 2009 @ 6:58pm

    SGA

    I'm curious how much input actual songwriters have into the "guild's" policies. Back when the Science Fiction Writers of America tried to get crazy with takedown notices, etc., on behalf of their members, the writers revolted.

    Are the SFWA writers just more in tune with current tech? Or are the SGA members more divorced from their leadership?

     

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  75.  
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    Stephen Pate, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 3:46am

    Songwriter copyright

    It's easy for you to dispense with the income of another group of people but why and what will replace it. Web 2.0, long tail and all that other rhetoric flies in the face of not only songwriters but other music industry people like the session musicians, the engineers, etc. There is a business model that can reward them for time spent. You don't offer anyother other model than a simplistic - you can make it touring. Being doctrinaire about copyright is no less fascist than being a fascist. Somebody has to pay for supper. Simply throwing this concept of free up in the air isn't going to do much. What's wrong with paying for what is done. Otherwise, I'm calling up Gibson, Martin and Godin (who made the guitars I use), Roland, Korg, Marshall, MacKie, Sonar, Neumann, Roland, Dell, Apple and all the people that sold me software and hardware for new free gear. I need gear to record music so they better give it to me so I can make music to give away. I'll tell my fans who donated the strings even - d'Addario and Martin.

     

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  76.  
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    Stephen Pate, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 3:56am

    Re: Songwriters who don't perform

    Most of the CD's recorded suck because everyone thinks they can write music which is totally absurd. People who write great lyrics are often not the people who write great tunes. Most of the recorded music is totally forgettable and will be forgotten. You like it at the indie club but who cares a year later. Great songs that last are either luck (persistence over time) or art.

     

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  77.  
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    Stephen Pate, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 3:58am

    Re: Re: Here is a new business model for songwriters

    That is a worthless suggestion. You have no concept of the web of relationships the songwriter must establish to get past the walls and ego of performing musicians. Obviously, you have the great wisdom of someone who sits in the cheap seats and calls the plays.

     

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  78.  
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    Stuart Wood, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 5:04am

    Re: Rats, here I go again...

    @Lonnie: Just a quick one to suggest emusic for your prog rock needs - they have most, if not all, of the Inside Out label's music there (at least, in the UK), amongst various others.

    It's MP3 throughout and there's no DRM and it's significantly cheaper than iTunes or Amazon... I've got into more new music through them than any other online venue (though Pandora and Last.FM come close). Basically, at the price, it encourages you to try bands you've never heard of (with my subscription, I pay about 18p per track - about a quarter in USD).

    Just don't expect to see Dream Theater there any time soon...

    Cheers
    --
    Stuart Wood

     

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  79.  
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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Feb 4th, 2009 @ 5:25am

    Re: Songwriter copyright

    Stephen,

    You don't offer anyother other model than a simplistic - you can make it touring.


    If artists like Trent Reznor and Issa and Coulton etc. can make money with new business models (which may or may not involve touring), then they will have the money to pay session musicians and songwriters. Most session musicians, at least, get paid for their time anyways. If artists can make money who need to hire songwriters and session musicians, then songwriters and session musicians can get hired. If artists aren't making money, they might want to reconsider basing their business models on copyright.

    What's wrong with paying for what is done.


    I think you're confusing royalties and salaries. Copyright pays people for what they've already done, whereas a salaray pays someone to do work.

    Otherwise, I'm calling up Gibson, Martin and Godin (who made the guitars I use), Roland, Korg, Marshall, MacKie, Sonar, Neumann, Roland, Dell, Apple and all the people that sold me software and hardware for new free gear.


    You seem confused. Do you pay Godin every time you play their guitar? My guess is no, yet copyright demands that a songwriter gets paid every time someone uses their song.

    Making a one-time purchase to acquire something or have it created (where it's a guitar, or a new song you've commissioned for your new film) is quite different from having to pay every time you use something.

    That's why people are increasingly paying less attention to copyright law. You simply can't use a computer and not run afoul of it.

    Copyright law isn't becoming increasing irrelevant because people are being "doctrinaire," but rather, Mike is simply explaining why it's becoming irrelevant.

    You are completely mistaking an explanation for the cause. Mike's ideas are powerful, but not that powerful as to change the nature of economics and digital goods!

     

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  80.  
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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Feb 4th, 2009 @ 5:27am

    Re: Re: Re: Here is a new business model for songwriters

    I'm pretty sure that's covered in "sell service to write song" -- part of selling involves networking and marketing and building up those relationships and making a sale. No?

    Sure, it's extremely simplified. But I don't think it's inaccurate.

     

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  81.  
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    Marcu G, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 5:48am

    Excellent points, now to get the industry to understand the reality and stop the nonsense of alienating their customers.

     

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  82.  
    identicon
    TechyDad, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 6:23am

    Re: Rats, here I go again...

    Lonnie,

    I'd recommend AmieStreet.com. They have a lot of quality indie bands on there (as well as the usual assortment of garbage, but I guess it's all a matter of taste). Unlike iTunes, Amie Street's songs are in non-DRMed MP3 files.

    Amie Street is using one of those "new business models" that I'm sure Carnes thinks is impossible. Songs start out free. As people buy them, they rise in price to 98 cents. So you can either take a chance on a free/low cost song or stick with proven, popular, more expensive songs.

    If you'd like, you can e-mail me and I'll send you an invite. (I believe that an invite gets you free credits for buying songs.)

     

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  83.  
    identicon
    Nelson Cruz, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 7:31am

    Not another John Philip Sousa!

    People like this Rick Carnes remind me of John Philip Sousa, the composer and conductor who wrote to congress in 1906 protesting against the "talking machines" that where "going to ruin the artistic development of music". He said that "the vocal cord will be eliminated by a process of evolution, as was the tail of man when he came from the ape". Sousa, like Carnes, could not imagine what the new technologies would enable (at least i have to give him credit for believing in evolution :)).

    Many people at the time complained about recording technology as a form of "stealing". They failed to see at first the new business models it enabled. All they saw as the end of live performances, with which they made their living! They wanted their old ways protected! Fast forward 100 years and, surprise surprise, new technologies came along and many want the old ways protected.

    For a long time the technology for recording music, and making copies of those records, was not available to the public. The business model of selling copies of recordings made a lot of sense, and it was of great value to music lovers. Even when cassette tapes came along, cost and quality concerns limited their threat to that business model.

    But now we have the internet, which allows infinite perfect digital copies at perceived zero cost. Selling copies is no longer a business model with much value. Instead of demanding protection to the old models, to the detriment of the online freedoms and rights of the rest of the world, creators must once again find new business models that do have VALUE. That's how business works!

     

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  84.  
    identicon
    TonsoTunez, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 7:46am

    Dispensing With Some Myths About The Poor Poor Songwriters

    Mike, you base your arguments on a world where self contained bands will be the only option available to the consumer. And, it very well may be that that is where we're headed.

    Unfortunately, if that IS where we wind up after everything shakes out, performers who can't write and writers who can't perform will be left out of the mix. And, those are the people that currently provide majority of the music consumers are interested in obtaining.

    So, while consumers may be demanding what they want today ... unobstructed access to music without compensating its creators - they eventually will not be getting what they actually want tomorrow ... the high quality musical variety we have today.

    We all need to consider the long term unintended consequences of getting to the outcome you present as inevitable. There are rational options to your slash and burn point of view. All of us should be looking for ways to embrace them... for the good of our musical future.

     

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  85.  
    identicon
    Xiera, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 9:56am

    Re: Dispensing With Some Myths About The Poor Poor Songwriters

    Read the other replies, many of them refute the ideas you're presenting.

    Moreover, think about it for a second: there are performers who can't write and writers who can't perform. Uhh, hello? As long as performers who can't write are able to perform, they'll employ writers who can't perform. I apologise if I'm having trouble wording this explanation, but it just seems so OBVIOUS.

    Actually, this presents the PERFECT opportunity for a networking site that links performers and writers (I'm not patenting this idea, go ahead and make it happen).

    Even better, some performers who can't write may be able to interface with fans who can write.

    In the end, these alternate solutions may actually be BETTER for the industry than the current model.

     

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  86.  
    identicon
    Lucretious, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 10:03am

    Re: Dispensing With Some Myths About The Poor Poor Songwriters

    Unfortunately, if that IS where we wind up after everything shakes out, performers who can't write and writers who can't perform will be left out of the mix. And, those are the people that currently provide majority of the music consumers are interested in obtaining.

    ah, wrong. THAT is what the industry has been shoving down out collective throats for 40 odd years now. Internet radio showed that many, many folks want something fresh, new and different but the industry is doing everything it can to shut down net radio mainly because their member clients aren't part of that scene. There are are countless groups and individuals making music....good music....without the help of professional hacks churning out shiite like Britney Spears, JayZ and the like. The "industry" has had a choke-hold on regulating what we listen to for years (via radio, retail, MTV/VH1, etc) and now we're all supposed to feel bad about their money pipeline now that they have painted themselves into a corner?

    Fuck 'em.

     

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  87.  
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    Mark Rosedale (profile), Feb 4th, 2009 @ 10:11am

    Love the ending

    Oh that is a good ending, FTW!!!!! You strike back with a little bit of venom. So good.

    The quote: "I find their suggestions are unbelievably arrogant and self-serving." I just have to say he seems like an incredible arrogant and self-serving SOB imo.

     

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  88.  
    identicon
    Valkor, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 11:40am

    The gorilla in the songwriter's room

    This songwriter's association guy seems so terrified of the downloading boogeyman that he totally looses focus on the obvious thing that "killed" the contracted professional songwriter: the recording industry. On the other hand, it seems like the recording industry is what made that class of employment easier in the first place, but that's beside the point. Mr. Carnes points out in great detail how it's in the best interest of the recording companies to screw their songwriters, and then turns around and keeps freaking out about piracy's effect on songwriters.

     

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  89.  
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    mobiGeek, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 12:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Here is a new business model for songwriters

    And I wasn't suggesting that this has to be the first model they choose. Maybe they start with another model (say, write songs and give away FREE), and move to this other model as they develop a repetoir.

    Heck, isn't that how many artists get started?

     

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  90.  
    identicon
    Azrael, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 1:00pm

    Incorrect

    "That basically ended with Napster's death."

    Actually you can do that esily in DC++ : just right click on an any user name and select Get file list .

     

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  91.  
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    Mike (profile), Feb 4th, 2009 @ 2:02pm

    Re: Dispensing With Some Myths About The Poor Poor Songwriters


    Unfortunately, if that IS where we wind up after everything shakes out, performers who can't write and writers who can't perform will be left out of the mix. And, those are the people that currently provide majority of the music consumers are interested in obtaining.


    Did you not read the last paragraph? That's simply not true.

    So, while consumers may be demanding what they want today ... unobstructed access to music without compensating its creators - they eventually will not be getting what they actually want tomorrow ... the high quality musical variety we have today.

    Did you not read the entire post? THEY ARE COMPENSATING creators. They're just doing it in a different way than they used to.

    You make little sense when you state something that goes 100% against what I actually said.

     

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  92.  
    identicon
    Marge Bouvier, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 6:46pm

    Re: where to find free music?

    I have been feeling the same way lately - I'm going to try and support artists directly, buy from their websites and avoid the blood sucking industry.

    I hope a huge backlash arises if these creeps get their way. I will boycott all these companies!

    I suspect that while all these lawyers and companies are busy twisting copyright to suit their needs, Chinese people and companies who have grown up with "piracy" and figured out how to live with it and make money, will come over here and eat their lunch!

     

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  93.  
    identicon
    Marge Bouvier, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 6:58pm

    We've got to fight for our right to... make $$ from the creators!

    "who gave them the right to tell us how to make a living? Who are they to say we shouldn't fight to defend our rights? In truth, I find their suggestions are unbelievably arrogant and self-serving."

    Uhh, who's arrogant and self-serving? Aren't these guys the lawyers? "We" should defend "our" rights? Man, these guys are deluded! Is there anybody out there that believes the recording industry is trying to "help" artists? Please.

    Sounds like it's okay when THEY tell artists how to make a living, but no one else better make any suggestions!

     

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  94.  
    identicon
    Greg, Feb 6th, 2009 @ 10:01am

    Your definition of stealing?

    Maybe someone here can explain this to me - I offer you something for sale (in this case, music). You, on the other hand, have a way to get it without paying the price that I request. Subsequently, you ignore my request for payment and help yourself to the thing that I am offering only because you can do it without being caught.

    No matter how you rationalize it, this is stealing. period.

    Also, the phone operater analogy in the article is flawed. No one ever stole free operater-assisted calls, they found better alternatives. In the case of music, the actual object that is being offered for sale - not a substitute - is being stolen.

     

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  95.  
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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Feb 7th, 2009 @ 11:13am

    Re: Your definition of stealing?

    Maybe someone here can explain this to me - I offer you something for sale (in this case, music). You, on the other hand, have a way to get it without paying the price that I request. Subsequently, you ignore my request for payment and help yourself to the thing that I am offering only because you can do it without being caught.


    Notice that the explanation you give sounds a lot like a description of competition. Getting something from somewhere else isn't stealing. If it involves unauthorized copying, however, it may be copyright infringement. You still have the thing you were trying to sell. If it were stolen, you wouldn't have it anymore.

    No matter how you rationalize it, this is stealing. period.


    Is it really that hard to understand?

    Yes, it's still copyright infringement, and that's illegal, but it's not stealing.

     

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  96.  
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    Nick (profile), Feb 14th, 2009 @ 7:52pm

    Musicians: your challenge is to compete in the face of business model violation. Technology provides both opportunities and challenges to the status quo. Which one will you leverage?

     

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  97.  
    identicon
    Dave, Apr 5th, 2009 @ 3:07pm

    poverty

    When you said the poor, poor songwriters, I thought you were talking about the real songwriters, who are left in the margins to starve for their insightful observations.

     

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  98.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2010 @ 11:11am

    Re: Re: Dispensing With Some Myths About The Poor Poor Songwriters Decimated By Piracy

    most of the artists who make money from "free" whatever.. trent reznor..etc are very well established.

     

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  99.  
    identicon
    Dispensing Physician, Sep 23rd, 2011 @ 7:58am

    The poor poor songwriters

    The good ones find a way to make it big, and the rest still live at home with Mom and Dad.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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